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SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid

Article about: Here is something quite unusual, which I bought from US collector Mannie Gentile. At first glance it looks like a Swedish M37, but as soon as you look at the chinstraps a lot of second thoug

  1. #1

    Default SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid

    Here is something quite unusual, which I bought from US collector Mannie Gentile. At first glance it looks like a Swedish M37, but as soon as you look at the chinstraps a lot of second thoughts are required. The straps are essentially identical to those used on the Danish M46 (the second series, with the all-Danish liner) and there are other minor differences between the original M37 and this helmet.

    Manni wrote a very interesting note about this helmet, which I copy here entire -

    "This helmet was part of the Danish equipment trials of 1946-1949. However, the shell and leather liner is Swedish. The chinstrap is a Danish "improvement". In Sweden the model is known as the M37 helmet. 10,000 Swedish helmets were brought back with DANFORCE (The Danish exile army in Sweden, 1943-45) and were used for a couple of years by the Royal Guards. In 1946 the army decided it liked the Swedish design so much, that they ordered a local firm (Glud og Marstrand) to produce a copy - the elusive M46 helmet - and ordered the Army Technical Corps to upgrade existing stockpiles of Swedish shells with webbing chinstraps and new liners (if necessary). The idea was that existing stockpiles of Swedish shells (this helmet) and the "new" M46 copies would be the new Danish combat helmet. But because US and British forces in Germany had huge stockpiles of old kit they wanted to peddle to the newly liberated countries, Denmark ended up with the British MkII and MkIII helmets and finally the US M1 helmet instead. It was simply cheaper to repaint old US and UK lids. In short this helmet was one of the very few that was changed to the new standard, and one of only three known variants of the Danish M46 helmet. It is in other words a very used shell, with an interesting story. Made in Sweden for the armed forces, then used by DANFORCE soldiers during their training in Sweden. Shipped to Denmark with DANFORCE in May of 1945, then used between 1945-46 by the Royal Guards, then refurbished for the equipment trials of 1946-49, and then finally put into deep storage for the next 50+ years."

    A comprehensive overview, certainly, and one I am inclined to accept unless told differently. (The 'three known variants' of the M46 Mannie alludes to must be the first, with British liner and straps, the second, with Danish liner and straps, and, I assume, this hybrid M37/46 type as I know of no other.)

    Anyway, it obviously is an M37 shell, repainted at least twice. Unlike both the smooth-finished M37 and M46 the most recent repaint has a distinct granular texture. There is no Swedish maker's mark or size mark on the rim as we might expect with a standard M37, but there is a faint mark on the inside rear, a crown over the number 69 writ large, itself over a much smaller number 5131. Almost impossible to photograph, but I include two shots taken with a microscope. I must also add that the shape of the crown is slightly puzzling to me, a broad but low representation not like the normal Danish or Swedish crown. This is a very unusual stamp as far as I am concerned.

    Apart from the obvious differences in the chinstrap (and note that this one and the single M46 I have both have the later-war T1 type hook and ball rather than the earlier simple hook type shown on many photos of the M46) the way the liner is secured is different - the M37/46 has two rivets (one at each end of the liner pad bar) and a split pin, whereas the M37 has all three points secured by split rivets. The strap loops are similar - probably identical - on the standard M37 and the M37/46, but on the real M46 they are welded-on loops.

    I've very interested in any comments on and additions to this description.

    The M37/46 - shell and liner

    SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid

    SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid

    SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid


    SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid

    SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid

    SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid


    M37 - standard Swedish M37 - chinstrap and liner attachment

    SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid


    M46 - second series, Danish liner and straps

    SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid

    SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid

  2. #2

    Default

    wow ... I never seen that one before.

    Most of what Mannie writes seems to be spot on, but the DANFORCE brigade never consisted of more than 5,000 individuals including all auxiliary functions, so I very much doubt that they brought 10,000 M37 helmets with them.
    The uniform used by DANFORCE which was a copy of the British M/1937 was officially adopted as the uniform of the Danish army with the designation M/1944 after the war. Most likely a stock of Swedish helmets were bought (or donated by Sweden) at this point.

    Your M46 helmet is the civil defense version used in the early 1960s - It has a smooth light grey finish. The original army M46 has a dark green colour and the exact same texture as your hybrid M37. I've included pictures of the texture and chinstraps on my two army M46s - Note that the chinstraps aren't of the same type, but they are both of the early simple types. The British MKII/MKIII liner system is glued into the shell.

    It's interesting that your two helmets have the late war ball and hook chinstraps. All my M46s (both original and civil defense) have early hook types.
    It's also interesting that your M37 has a riveted chinstrap, something I haven't seen on Danish helmets prior to the early 1950s

    Army M46

    SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid
    SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid
    SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid

    DANFORCE M37

    SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid

  3. #3

    Default

    Jesper, that's good stuff! I quoted Mannie in good faith, even though I did have slight doubts about one or two things. I should say that everything Mannie says is, according to him, essentially a quote from a *Danish* collector (who Mannie did not name) who gave him the helmet quite a long time ago, more than twenty years. I especially did wonder about the DANFORCE element, thinking, as you say, that it was comparatively small, On the other hand if the Swedes just sent them off with a parting gift of 10,000 helmets to help rebuild the Danish military, it would make sense.

    That's a particularly amazing thing about the M46 British liner *glued in*. I have not seen that before. I haven't seen one of these in the real world so I assumed there was a crown suspension bolt like, well, normal. Easy to see why they revised *that* system fairly quickly!

    I've also not seen a genuine military M46, and I must say that my hybrid and my real 46 are the only ones I have seen that have the T1 chinstrap catch, every other picture I have seen has the simple hook. There's no real sign on either than they are anything other than the original fitted catches.

    Thanks for responding. Very interesting.

    A question - the welding of the chinstrap loops on my M46 seems clumsy and messy, almost as if they are welded over the remains of a previous fitting. Are the loops the same on M46 mk1 and mk2 ?

  4. #4

    Default

    It's dark as a dungeon here now - so it's impossible to take reasonable pictures but I can take a series of pictures of the army M46 in the weekend if you want.
    I looks like there is only a very limited number of the original army M46 helmets out there. I have only ever seen the two that I am lucky enough to own myself.

    There is only one version of the M46 shell. The civil defense version of the helmet is just a refurbished army helmet that was handed over to the civil defense some time after the procurement of a large number of surplus WW2 M1 helmets and liners from US stocks in Germany (They would become the first version of the M48 helmet).
    My guess to the clumsy welding on your helmet is that it's a repair job. That could also explain why your helmet has a newer chinstrap version.

    I've also been looking a bit into all the different British helmets that was used in Denmark (MKII, MKIII, AT-MK2, DR). And it looks like those were primarily (maybe exclusively) used by the Danish brigade in Germany (1947-1958). Possibly by the home guard as well... But that's another story.

    SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid
    SWEDISH/DANISH M37/46 hybrid

  5. #5

    Default

    Is it reasonable to believe that the early M46 with the British liner/strap (which I think of, certainly wrongly, as Mk1) were refurbished and upgraded with the Danish liner/strap? Maybe when handed over to CF? There's not a lot of information on these, you know. I've learned as much from your two postings as I have from anything else, like Skotte's book or the WORLD WAR HELMETS site.

  6. #6

    Default

    MK1 and MK2 are as good designations as any. Yes, the M46 helmet were originally intended as the new army helmet, but the whole stock was most likely handed over to the civil defense and refurbished when the army bought a load of surplus M1 helmets from the Americans for next to nothing. That would also be the most viable explanation to why there is an abundance of the civil defense version but almost none left in their original state.

  7. #7

    Default

    Very interesting post.

    Question to the amines: is it not possible to pin posts like this from helmets?

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